GREENFIELD — A Hancock County man has been arrested and charged with 12 counts of child pornography after information from a national tip line led police to a computer in his home.
Scott A. Franklin, 48, Greenfield, was booked into the Hancock County Jail Tuesday after the Fishers Police Department, working with the Hamilton County Metro Child Exploitation Task Force, investigated three CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Franklin has been charged with 11 Level 5 felony counts of possession of child pornography and one Level 6 felony count of possession of child pornography. The charges carry sentences totaling more than 60 years.
Franklin made his initial appearance Wednesday morning in Hancock County Circuit Court in front of Judge Scott Sirk. Bond was set at $3,000 cash.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton and chief deputy prosecutor Marie Castetter said the investigation is just beginning. Since the case originated outside the county, they hadn’t yet been fully briefed by the Hamilton County authorities.
The key unanswered question, they said, was where the images — some of which depicted an infant — originated.
“Did he generate the images himself or get them from a third party?” Eaton said, in a response to question concerning the source of the images.
A probable-cause affidavit filed here by the Hamilton County task force said that on three occasions in early 2019 — Jan. 7, 11 and 24 — a person using a specific internet address had uploaded images of child pornography using the Bing search engine. The files depicted children under the age of 18 years old. At least two of the images depicted children who appeared to be pre-teens, the affidavit states.
Investigators were then able to trace the IP address — a unique identification number for every computer using the internet — to one used by Franklin, the affidavit states. A search warrant was issued in June by the Hamilton County Metro Child Exploitation Task Force.
During the search of the property, Franklin told investigators he sometimes searched for pornography online and that it’s possible images of children showed up unexpectedly, the affidavit said.
Franklin also told police he followed suggestions provided by the search engine and admitted he would click on the suggested links out of curiosity, but he said he was not intentionally looking for this type of material.
“I wish I never clicked on anything,” Franklin said, according to the affidavit.
During the search, police seized the computer. An examination of it showed searches with several images of child pornography, including some depicting babies.
In total, at least 20 images of child pornography were recovered from the computer’s hard drive, the affidavit said. The computer’s internet search history also showed that several search terms commonly associated with people looking for child pornography were present.
Franklin is scheduled back in court Thursday, Oct. 24, for a pre-trial conference. A jury trial has been set for Tuesday, Dec. 17.